Q: Is partnership/membership in the Bible?
A: The general concepts of commitment, partnership, membership and co-laboring in the local church are definitely in the Bible. (Colossians 3:12-16, Hebrews 10:24-25, James 5:16, 1 Peter 4:8-10, Romans 12:13, 1 Corinthians 10:16, Galatians 6:6, Philippians 1:5, 2:1, 3:10, 4:15, Romans 12:3-8, 1 Corinthians 12:12-26, Ephesians 4:25) The specifics of how that is fleshed out is left up to local churches to decide. This is just HOW we are ordering these commitments at Grace Bible Church.
Q: Will people be treated differently if they don't want to do this?
A: Not in the way most people worry about. We will not have negative thoughts towards non-partners. Some voting functions such as nominating deacons and affirming elders & pastors will be centered around active partners. However, even these functions will require us to pay attention to the input of all kinds of people.
Q: Why partnership and not membership?
A: The Bible uses the term partnership just as much as the term membership. Our constitution uses the terms membership and partnership interchangeably. We are promoting it as partnership to emphasize the temporary nature of most of our church. Using an unusual term also sets it apart and forces people to think about it. We also prefer partnership because membership has some negative connotations for a lot of Christians. The Biblical words are basically the same. The local church applications vary from place to place and time to time.
Q: Why not have a covenant format that uses vows and promises?
A: We do not think it is a sin for churches to require oaths and promises in their membership covenants. However, the New Testament is clear that our primary motivation towards holiness is the the grace of God in Christ. As such, we prefer to emphasize our trust in Christ as the foundation for our partnership.
Q: What do partners do?
A: Our vision is detailed in the constitution in "Article III: Membership". The summary could be "walk with Jesus and each other in cooperation at Grace Bible Church". Partners with Christ have the privilege of spending their lives for him. Partners with Christ at Grace Bible Church will spend their lives for him in cooperation with other saints at Grace Bible Church. Here are some of the ways our constitution suggests doing this at Grace Bible Church:
- Have as our highest goal to glorify God by enjoying him in everything that we think or do;
- Delight in Christ as our true comfort in life and death;
- Recognize that local church membership does not save us, or gain any additional favor with God;
- Apply all of our heart, soul, and mind to knowing God and making Him known;
- Engage regularly in personal Bible reading and prayer, establishing family devotions when possible;
- Be honest and faithful in all endeavors, exemplary in conduct, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts;
- Bring up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord;
- Walk together in Christian love, exercise Christian care, concern and watchfulness over one another; be thoughtful, considerate, slow to take offense, and quick to forgive and seek forgiveness;
- Endeavor to provide for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of one another;
- Hold one another accountable to the mandates of Scripture and exercise discipline in accordance with the Word of God;
- Assist in the work of the church and aid in the establishment of the church as a witness to the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ;
- Persevere by example, by word, and by prayer in fulfilling the mission of Grace Bible Church;
- Contribute to the financial support of Grace Bible Church and its undertakings;
- Submit to the leadership of the elders;
- Carry out the works of ministry in such a way as to include but not be limited to fellow Grace Bible Church members.